Essential oils are highly concentrated extracts that are naturally distilled from different parts of a plant. Many essential oils have strong cleansing properties and are naturally antimicrobial. For thousands of years essential oils have been used in pregnancy and labor, however, not all oils are safe to use during pregnancy.
We are going to cover the best essential oils to incorporate into your pregnancy and how to use them safely.
Using Essential Oils During Pregnancy
Since essential oils are so potent it is really important that you know how to use them during pregnancy. You should only use oils that are high-quality, third-party tested therapeutic-grade oils. The following brands are high quality and use third-party testing: Mountain Rose Herbs, Doterra, Plant Therapy, and NOW Essential Oils. The essential oils sold at TJ Maxx are often blended with other filler oils and do not undergo any testing.
In the first and second trimesters, it is fine to use aromatically. I do not recommend any topical use before the third trimester. Since the oils are highly concentrated it's important that you dilute them with a carrier oil like coconut oil or almond oil before applying them to your skin. A ratio of 3 drops of carrier oil to one drop of essential oil is a standard dilution guideline. If you have sensitive skin avoid any citrus-based essential oils, they may cause skin irritation. Before applying a diluted oil to the skin I recommend you spot test to see how your skin reacts.
To use oils aromatically I recommend using an ultrasonic diffuser which relies on water to evaporate essential oils. If you don't have a diffuser you can apply a drop or two of the essential oil onto a cotton ball and inhale deeply. Some people also use essential oil inhalers which are a great option for gentle aromatherapy.
Lavender is my all-time favorite oil. This is an extremely gentle oil, safely diffused anytime and applied topically after 14 weeks of pregnancy. Lavender helps promote calm in the body and can be defused or applied topically. If you are using lavender oil topically it can be particularly soothing applied to the bottoms of the feet and the back of the neck.
Research has proven that lavender oil helps reduce stress and anxiety, improves sleep, and helps lower blood pressure. If you are having trouble sleeping, try diffusing lavender oil in your bedroom before bed for a better night's sleep. Lavender also helps with pain relief. Those who use lavender oil during their labor are less likely to request pain medication.
Lemon is an extremely versatile oil. Its bright aroma is energizing in nature and can also decrease nausea. A randomized clinical trial found that inhaling lemon essential oil was effective in preventing nausea for pregnant people with mild to moderate morning sickness. If you are feeling exhausted or stagnant, take a few deep inhalations of lemon oil or apply the diluted oil around your ankles or between your thumb and pointer finger (your "webby"). Remember, lemon is a citrus oil so for some it can be a skin irritant. Lemon oil is also photosensitive so be sure not to apply it topically before sun exposure.
Lemon essential oil is also a terrific cleaning agent. If you ever have something sticky or goopy, lemon oil helps remove the grime!
Cypress is safe for use after five months. Cypress oil can increase energy and it helps stimulate circulation. It is known to relieve varicose veins, soothe swollen ankles, ease hemorrhoids, and lower blood pressure. This oil can also help reduce swelling by clearing lactic acid from the body. Diluted with a carrier oil, you can apply it to your abdomen and lower back if you are experiencing constipation. To help lower blood pressure dilute in a 1:1 ratio and apply 1-2 drops to the bottoms of your feet and abdomen.
Geranium essential oil is nourishing, calming, and uplifting. Geranium enhances circulation and is good for labor management. If you are feeling nervous, anxious, or defeated apply some diluted geranium oil to the bottoms of your feet and ankles. I love to use geranium oil as part of my postpartum massage to promote circulation in the ankles and legs.
Another one of my absolute favorite oils is vetiver, also known as the "oil of tranquility". Vetiver is a root so it makes sense that vetiver essential oil is grounding in nature. Its aroma is heavy, smoky, and earthy. Vetiver helps us descend and integrate our minds and body. If you are feeling stuck in your head, or resistant, try diffusing some vetiver. Vetiver is known to be a valuable essential oil for relieving stress and helping people recover from emotional trauma. I love the scent so much I even use this as a perfume. To use topically it is most potent when applied to the back of the neck and bottoms of the feet.
Morning Sickness Essential Oil Blend
We all know that morning sickness during pregnancy can be a real doozy. The worst part is that is usually not isolated to the morning. This essential oil blend has provided a lot of relief to many of my clients. I hope it offers you some relief!
10 drops peppermint
10 drops cardamom
30 drops lavender
Mix in a 5 ml bottle and place a few drops on a cotton ball or hankie. Inhale deeply.
Disclaimer: This information does not substitute for a care provider-patient relationship and should not be relied on as personal medical advice.
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Meet the Author
Clara O'Rourke (she hers),
Holistic Doula & Childbirth Educator.
I am a researcher turned total birth nerd with a passion for supporting people birth in their full power! I guide people through their pregnancy, labor, and postpartum journey by helping them overcome fear or anxiety about birth, providing evidence-based information so they can make informed decisions, and making sure they have everything they need to birth with confidence. Birth is sacred and it should be treated that way. I am committed to providing support for birth and beyond, regardless of a person's background, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or relationship status. También ofrezco mis servicios en español. I wish you and your growing family the brightest of beginnings!